Denver: 2012 Colorado Small Hydro Conference May 17


From the Colorado Small Hydro Association:

This year’s Colorado Small Hydro Conference is being held in conjunction with the American Solar Energy Society’s (ASES) annual conference and the World Renewable Energy Forum (WREF). Why attend this year’s conference? You will meet other property owners interested in hydro development, current hydro owners and operators, utilities, government staff from municipalities with currently untapped potential in their water lines, ditch companies, environmental consultants, and state and local officials.

Here is a sampling of what to expect from the conference:

– Presentations on new hydro technologies
– Project financing
– Updates about recently completed government resource assessments
– Updates on federal and state policy to support hydro, including Colorado’s FERC pilot program
– Updates on a recent hydro project construction in Colorado


Advance registration is necessary this year. The registration fee of $75 includes the conference, beverages throughout the day, breakfast, and entrance to the WREF Expo Hall on the day of the conference. Be sure to check out lodging specials at

Here’s the registration page.

More hydroelectric coverage here and here.

The Custer County commissioners are considering the augmentation plan from the Upper Ark District, again


Here’s an in-depth look at the history of an augmentation plan with the Upper Arkansas Water Conservation District and Custer County, from Nora Drenner writing for The Wet Mountain Tribune. Click through and read the whole article. Here’s an excerpt:

A blanket water augmentation plan was brought to the table again in 2003 at the urging of the county commissioners to address the depletion of wells in Custer County. The UAWCD submitted such a plan to water court in June 2009. Once again, the proposed plan came under fire when several Valley citizens urged the county commissioners to ask the UAWCD to pull the plug, and subsequently the UAWCD voluntarily withdrew its proposed water augmentation plan. Additionally, the commissioners and the UAWCD decided to keep the line of communication open in regards to bringing another proposed water augmentation plan to Custer County. The UAWCD and commissioners also agreed at that time that there was a lack of understanding in regards to how a water augmentation plan works, and as such UAWCD would strive to educate Custer County residents and elected officials.

Moreover, the commissioners appointed an ad hoc water assessment committee to study the need for a county-wide blanket water augmentation plan in Custer County. That committee, led by commissioner Butler, concluded in June 2011 that a water augmentation problem did not currently exist, and such a problem would likely not exist for at least 10 years. According to the findings of the ad hoc water committee there were only 320 parcels in the county that are 35 acres or less that would need a water augmentation plan to get a well permit.

More Custer County coverage here and here.

San Miguel River: Montrose County files for diversion rights for the nascent uranium boom ahead of Colorado in-stream flow program


From The Telluride Daily Planet (Benjamin Preston):

water supply along certain parts of the San Miguel River isn’t guaranteed during certain parts of the year. That’s why the Colorado Water Conservation Board began moving in 2010 to preserve in-stream river flows by filing water rights claims with the 7th Judicial district Court. Montrose County wasted no time filing water rights claims along the San Miguel River — before CWCB filed its claims — aimed at securing water to supply a uranium boom its officials see coming on the county’s West End.

The proposed water development project — for which Montrose County has already had preliminary engineering and analysis done — calls for 6,400 acre-feet of water per year to supply West End uranium milling and its associated economic growth.

More significant, perhaps, is that the water would be stored in a number of new reservoirs — one of the larger ones to be sited in San Miguel County, in a canyon near Wright’s Mesa once slated for the development of the Bureau of Reclamation’s Marie Scott dam — holding more than 25,000 acre-feet of water, according to court water rights application documents….

Nearly 20 different entities — including San Miguel County, the Town of Telluride, Sheep Mountain Alliance, several ranchers, Discovery Channel and Gateway Canyons Resort owner John Hendricks and even the state engineer — have formally objected to Montrose County’s filings, contending that its uranium development projection is speculative, and therefore in violation of state water laws.

More nuclear coverage here and here.

Snowpack news: Statewide snowpack drops to 65% of average, South Platte = 69%, Colorado = 61%, San Juan/Dolores/San Miguel = 69%


Last week I told the CWCB’s Water Availability Task Force that I thought Standley Lake would fill this runoff season, “barring a snowpack disaster.” This week I’m not so confident. I’m eagerly awaiting the April 1 Basin Outlook Report from the NRCS to look at their streamflow forecast for Clear Creek. Click on the thumbnail graphic to the right for the current snowpack map from the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

From The Aspen Times (Janet Urquhart):

Winter was late to arrive in the Colorado mountains, and it’s apparently making an early exit, boosting tan lines but creasing the brows of those who watch the state’s snowpack with an eye toward summer water availability and fire danger.

Twenty percent of Colorado’s annual snowpack typically accumulates in March, according to Mage Skordahl, assistant snow survey supervisor for the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Denver. The state typically hits its snowpack peak in early to mid-April. Instead, the snowpack has been eroding. Statewide, the snowpack stood at 81 percent of average at the start of March and had dropped to 71 percent of average by Friday, Skordahl said. The Roaring Fork Basin was looking good by comparison, at 78 percent of average on Monday. “That’s good,” Skordahl said. “It hasn’t melted out as much as it looks like from down low.

Still, the snow-measuring site at 10,600 feet on Independence Pass, southeast of Aspen, dropped from 40 inches of snow on March 20 to 34 inches by Monday. And the high temperature at the high-elevation site hit nearly 56 degrees on Friday. It was much the same story at other measuring stations around the basin. On McClure Pass south of Carbondale, for example, the snowpack dropped from 34 inches on March 20 to 27 inches on Monday, and Sunday’s high at the site was 61 degrees. The McClure station is at 9,500 feet…

It’s too early to say whether [drought] conditions are on the horizon, but it’s on the minds of those who contemplate such things. “We’re starting to whisper it, but it’s not official,” [Paul Frisbie, forecaster with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction] said.

The Colorado Mesa University Water Center March newsletter is hot off the press


Here’s the link to the March 21 newsletter from the Water Center at Colorado Mesa University (Hannah Holm). Here’s an excerpt:

On March 1, Basin Roundtable members from around Colorado gathered to compare notes on their portfolios for how to meet the state’s growing urban water needs in coming decades: How much from agriculture? How much from the Colorado River? How much from conservation? The meeting was one step in the process of developing a statewide water plan.

More education coverage here.

Colorado Water 2012: Home gardens contribute to the quality of life in urban areas


Here’s an excerpt from the latest article in The Pueblo Chieftain’s Colorado Water 2012 series (Zachary Stanifer):

Just 10 short years ago our business felt the full effects of the scarcity of water. Restrictions in the use of water crippled our spring planting business. Even the most avid gardeners cut back the amount of plantings they installed that year, having no guarantee that they would have the water necessary to nurture their plants. While most of what we grow is not essential to a person’s livelihood, I would argue that the simple joy found in fostering a vegetable plant to harvest or a flower to bloom in your favorite color is priceless.

It is vitally important to our community that water remain plentiful and reasonably priced. There have been great efforts put forth in the last decade to educate residents on proper water use and it is finally starting to sink in. A recent article stated that Pueblo’s water use has dropped to levels not seen since 1980, even with adding more taps. This has resulted from a new mindset in landscape usage: Water established plantings for longer periods but less frequently. This develops a more robust root system, requiring less water over time and actually increases the overall health of the plant. We have made many changes in our greenhouses in the last three years to water our crops more efficiently. We have installed regulators and timers to ensure that we are using only the water that we need to use. We use more water in June than any other month of the year. With the upgrades in water applicators we used only one-third of the water in June 2011, compared with June 2009. This decrease in usage was significant since we were actually growing more plants in 2011.

Over the past six years we have increased our plant offerings that are better suited for our climate. These heat tolerant, lower water use plants are essential in the Pueblo landscape. They are often easier to maintain and require much less “prodding” to establish than other thirstier plants. As we begin to utilize more sustainable ornamental plantings we allow ourselves the opportunity to free up more water for the growth of our wonderful city.

More conservation coverage here.

Reclamation has $170,000 for conservation projects in eastern Colorado


From the Targeted News Service (Mary Grace DeJucos) via Water World:

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s Great Plains Region has announced that it expects to award a maximum of three cooperative agreement grants to manage, develop and protect water and related resources in eastern Colorado. The estimated total program funding available was cited as $170,000 with a ceiling of $100,000 for each award under this program. This funding opportunity is open to state, Indian tribe, irrigation district, water district and other organization.

A funding opportunity notice from the Bureau of Reclamation Great Plains Region states: “The objective of this Funding Opportunity is to invite eligible applicants to leverage their money and resources by cost sharing with Reclamation on projects/activities that will do one or more of the following: promote the preparation of written water management and conservation plans that will lead to subsequent implementation of conveyance, measurement or operational improvements which will conserve water, increase water use efficiency, or enhance operational efficiency, demonstrate new or previously unknown water management technologies and practices, implement activities identified in approved and written water management and/or conservation plans, promote improvement understanding of good-water use practices and techniques.”

The funding opportunity number is R12SF60009 (CFDA 15.530). The application closing date is April 30.

More Bureau of Reclamation coverage here.

Colorado State University Extension agent Leonard Pruett to join the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District board


From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Leonard Pruett of Lamar was appointed to replace Scott Reed in an order released Monday in Division 2 Water Court. He will represent Prowers and Kiowa counties.

Four other directors were reappointed: Kevin Karney, at-large; Gibson Hazard and Harold Miskel, El Paso County and Vera Ortegon, Pueblo County. The appointments will take effect at the April 19 board meeting and their terms will expire in 2016…

Pruett served as a livestock agent and area director for seven Southeastern Colorado counties for 38 years during his career with CSU Extension prior to retiring in 2007. He was inducted into the Colorado Agricultural Hall of Fame in 2009.

More Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District coverage here and here.